Audi offers efficiency-focused "Ultra" versions of several of its models in Europe that are designed to achieve maximum fuel economy with conventional internal-combustion powertrains.
So far, none of these models have been offered for sale in the U.S., though.
That's about to change with the introduction of the 2017 Audi A4 Ultra sedan, which arrives in U.S. showrooms this fall.
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The Ultra does indeed improve on the fuel economy of other A4 models, achieving an EPA-rated 31 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 37 mpg highway).
As with other A4 variants, the sole U.S. powertrain option for the Ultra is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, coupled to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
However, the Ultra is only available with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is optional on other models.
2017 Audi A4
The 2.0-liter engine is based on the one used in other A4 models, but its compression ratio was bumped from 9.6:1 to 11.7:1.
While the Ultra is more fuel efficient than the rest of the A4 range, it also offers less power than other models.
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Output is pegged at 190 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, compared to 252 hp and 273 lb-ft in non-Ultra versions of the A4.
Audi says the A4 Ultra will do 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds—1.0 second slower than the standard front-wheel drive A4.
The Ultra is positioned as the entry-level model in the A4 range, although it still gets a substantial amount of standard equipment.
2017 Audi A4
A starting price of $35,850 (including destination) undercuts the standard front-wheel drive A4 by $2,400.
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The Ultra will take its place as the most fuel-efficient A4 in the absence of a TDI diesel model.
Audi had planned to import an A4 TDI to the U.S. as part of the sedan's recent redesign, but announced a reversal of that decision earlier this year.
Audi of America president Scott Keogh said the change was not related to the ongoing Volkswagen diesel scandal—which involves some Audi models—but rather the result of weak consumer interest in diesel sedans.